Create a Timeline!

Far more than just a final deadline, a timeline lays out, in sequential order, a schedule of all the events AND the estimated times between them, that must occur before the final deadline is met. You may think of it as a series of mini deadlines that must be achieved to keep a project on time. Without the accountability of intermediate checkpoints (I must write 30 pages a day to finish this book by the end of the year) it is all too easy for a project to fall seriously behind schedule.

Some events will be dependent upon the completion of others while others can parallel process independently at least for a significant period of time. For example, you must pour the foundation of the house before you can install the walls and it must happen early in the house building project timeline, but you generally have a lot more time to select and order the furniture or carpet.

Critical Path Method is a specialized type of project timeline intended for extremely complex projects with many paralleling timelines and the focus is on LONGEST timeline where any delays will delay the entire project hence the name “Critical Path.” Imagine the complexity and incredible number of timelines associated with building and stocking a modern aircraft carrier! Note that timelines whose length is close to that of the Critical Path and which experience delays can become the new Critical Path.

Every project, every commitment, even the simplest (I will have this report to you by Friday) should have a completion date. If you don’t know yet what date you can commit to, give the best estimate you can of the date you will know the date you can commit to! And if it changes, give immediate Heads Up along with your next, best estimate! Doing so builds accountability and confidence in your competency as a project manager.

Closing Quotes (Humorous):

“Anything that can be changed will be changed until there is no time left to change anything.”

“There are no good project managers – only lucky ones. The more you plan the luckier you get.”

“If project content is allowed to change freely the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.”

“Too few people on a project can’t solve the problems – too many create more problems than they solve.”

“All project managers face problems on Monday mornings – good project managers are working on next Monday’s problems.”

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier